Sunday, November 14, 2010

Experiments in Benign Neglect

On the morning of November 3rd, I went out to my carefully covered "fall salad" garden bed and, to my horror, the sheet was stiff with frost and the arugula was positively crispy with frost. I had a sad drive into work that day, believing that the arugula would turn black and slimy from being frozen to death. Despite my conscientious efforts to cover the bed each night with an old sheet, even when it meant running outside in my pajamas at 11 o'clock because I suddenly was clutched by a feeling of dread that I had forgotten to cover the bed. The looming spectre of frost-killed salad was enough to get me out of bed every time, but my efforts had been futile! I was so downhearted that I didn't even bother to put the sheet back out on Wednesday night, or to look at the damage done on Thursday morning.

I have never thought myself to be a drama queen, that role has always been filled by another member of my family (hmm, wonder who that might be?), but I must admit that I completely over-reacted in this case. Imagine my surprise when on Thursday afternoon, I came home and the arugula looked chipper and green and completely unscathed by the frost. Arugula - 1; Jack Frost - 0.

I should say that I do not just have arugula in the fall salad garden, but it's the only thing worth looking forward to eating. (Plus, I have a love affair with arugula.) The spinach looks anemic (oh, the irony) and the scallions, carrots and lettuce haven't done much at all.

Since I discovered the resilience of fall salad plants to frost, I've been much less concerned with their overnight tuck-in. I'm trying an experiment of how long I can go before a really hard killer frost (or snow! or ice!) does these tough little plants in for good. It's wonderful because I have turned my attentions toward the hordes of green tomatoes that require substantially more attention lately ("ew, this moldy tomato just collapsed in my hand" and "how many more times do I have to make tomato sauce before this is over?")

I am going to go pay some attention to my lovely little arugula right now, because we're making quiche tonight with farm eggs, caramelized onions, ricotta and Jarlsberg. (And many many thanks to the drama queen for providing the eggs!)

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